PWYC Fees Return!

Scratch | Mon, Jan 8 8:43 AM

Application Fees are Pay-what-you-can on Jan. 9-11

Almost every burlesque festival (including us) charges some sort of application fee and there are a lot of good reasons to do so.  They give a value to participating in the event (people tend to dismiss things they can get for free) and they encourage performers to be selective about which acts they submit. The fees are an acknowledgement of the time and effort that those folks tasked with evaluating the acts put into the selection process. Application fees remind performers of the financial realities of participating in a festival, from travel to housing to food to passive costs like missing work. Last, they can be a nod towards the history or prestige of the event.  An established event in a destination city is probably justified in charging higher fees than a brand-new one.

Application Fees can be put towards a lot of different things — but all of those things should somehow come back to the performers who are part of the festival.  What application fees should definitely not be are a way for a producer to prop up their event and cover the essential parts of the event’s operating budget.  The costs involved with producing a festival should be covered through sale of tickets and through supplemental revenue streams like sponsorships or advertising.  Even if your event producer is a registered non-profit organization (and many aren’t), Application Fees are not donations.  

Last, but probably most importantly, application fees should not be an unfair burden on performers who are less financially privileged.  Actions speak louder than words, and a festival can espouse the principles of inclusivity, community, and diversity, but if their application fees are effectively exclusionary, they’re just talking the talk.

Our application period ends on January 15, 2024 — and while we don’t want to reward procrastination, we also wanted to walk the walk.  Currently, our application fees are $15.  On January 9, 10, and 11 we’re bringing back our “Pay What You Can” fee structure.  If you can pay the $15 (or more), please do so — it’s a way that you can support performers who are less financially robust than you are.  If your circumstances require you to pay the minimum, there’s no shame in that.  The community of The Great Burlesque Exposition has your back.  We want to be clear that the tireless members of our Act Review Committee are never told what you chose to pay for an application fee,  They put the same careful time and effort into reviewing every act.. The labor of love of curating the over 180 (and growing!) act applications into a very limited set of performance opportunities is done blind to any fees paid.

Why January 9-11? By coincidence, one of those days is (probably) the birthdate of Rose Louise Hovick, who went on to perform as ‘Gypsy Rose Lee’.  Rose’s mother had a wide variety of passports and birth certificates for her children, and used them to “prove” her kids were of whatever age was most advantageous in the current circumstance. Louise did more to “normalize" burlesque than anyone else.  She brought burlesque into millions of homes as a performer on stage and in movies, and later as an author, radio personality, and early TV host.  She was truly one of the original “Queens of All Media*, and this is one way to acknowledge that.  

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